Sunday School Lesson

NOV 11, 2001

"But I Say To You"

Bible Background ---Matthew 5:17-48

Devotional Reading ---Amos 5:4 –15



1.      We should understand JESUS’ teaching on the law

2.      We should desire to go beyond what the law requires

3.      We should understand how to do so in our lives



“Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy but fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).

 In concise form, The biblical content emphasizes how JESUS told the disciples that He had not come to abolish the law or the prophets, but the law would stand until the end of time (vv.17-18).

In this lesson JESUS teaches us ways in which to fulfill the commandments of GOD. Practicing the fulfilling of GOD’S commands transforms our natural tendency not to love people we do not like. As we study, we are called to accept the challenge from JESUS to go beyond what is required. It is true that we sometimes reject standards that seem impossible to meet because we recognize our own imperfections. But JESUS who commands it will empower us. If you have difficulty living up to the challenges of loving the enemy and returning good for evil, this lesson is for you.

 By way of background, when JESUS walked this earth, He accomplished many wonderful feats. The Scriptures are filled with people He helped, taught, and encouraged. However, everyone did not appreciate JESUS. The scribes and Pharisees, the religious leaders of His day, DID NOT pour out their gratitude upon JESUS. They despised JESUS and eventually killed Him.

WHY DIDN’T THE RELIGIOUS PEOPLE EMBRACE JESUS?  1.He was not one of them. JESUS was a learned man without formal education. He had not attended the Pharisees’ schools, nor did he train under the Jewish rabbis, yet JESUS spoke with authority and scriptural accuracy.  2. JESUS exposed the sin and hypocrisy in the personal lives of the religious leaders and also pointed out errors in their teaching.  3. Before JESUS came, the congregation of Jewish people looked at the Pharisees and the Sadduces with great respect and adoration. When JESUS began to minister, He won the heart of the people. The religious leaders did not want to give up their position as the stars on center stage of the nation’s religious life.

Even though JESUS was harassed by the leaders of His day, the ridicule did not keep JESUS from preaching. Chapter 5 and verses 17-48 counter several of the teachings of the Pharisees and clarifies what GOD really wants from those who identify themselves with His name.


JESUS taught and exemplified radical ideas about the Law. Since He had a different approach in the areas of cleansing and the Sabbath, the religious leaders, no doubt, questioned His allegiance to the Old Testament teachings. However, when JESUS’ record is examined, their accusations proved to be unwarranted.

JESUS’ coming was not to do away with the Old Testament teachings. He believed whole-heartedly in the teachings of the Old Testament. As a Jewish child, JESUS was required to read, study, and memorize the law. At this time, the only books of the Bible were the Old Testament books. At the age of 12 JESUS accurately and wisely expounded upon the Scriptures. In doing so, He astounded the learned rabbis.  When Satan tempted JESUS, He used the WORD OF GOD to counter Satan’s attacks.

JESUS’ spoken words in the New Testament reflect the words written in the Old Testament Scriptures. He said, “All of these, speak of me” (Luke 24:44-45). JESUS encouraged the disciples to understand the Old Testament and to believe all that the prophets of the Old Testament had spoken (Luke 24:25,27). He told the multitude, “They erred in doctrine because they knew not the Old Testament” (Matthew 22:29). Therefore, it would be ridiculous to conclude that JESUS came to destroy or disregard the Old Testament Law. JESUS helped to clarify what the Old Testament taught, and He fulfilled (obeyed, completed, accomplished, brought out the full meaning of) what GOD had already spoken. JESUS came to demonstrate the fulfillment of GOD’S WORD. “CHRIST is the end of the law” (Roman 10:4).

 2.      JESUS AND THE OLD TEACHINGS (vv.38-48)

In verses 21 through 37 JESUS outlines six illustrations of Old Testament Law that the Pharisees concentrated on the outward actions of man. JESUS points out that the inner thoughts, emotions, and intents of the heart are just as important as the outward actions. The last part of the lesson today points out the final two principles, which deal with love: the law of love and the lack of love.

The Pharisees believed in standing up for their rights. JESUS encouraged His followers to be patient, forbearing, and willing to suffer wrong in order to overcome the evil with good.  Instead of demanding their personal rights or appealing to the courts, a believer appeals to a higher Judge who will one day judge our actions according to His standards of love and not the law of the land. If you are taking revenge against someone because of anger, resentment, or spiteful heart, you are in the wrong even though the person may have wronged you. As children of GOD, we are to keep our hearts clean. Vengeance belongs to GOD. As believers, we are not to retaliate. “LOVE suffereth long and is kind” (1 Corinthians 13:4). JESUS accepted insults and ill treatment and told His disciples to do the same. JESUS taught His followers to display a totally unselfish attitude toward their rights and property. They should be willing to be deprived of their coat (the undergarment) as well as their cloak (the more valuable upper garment).

 Our society is filled with people who have various belief systems. Even Christian media floods our minds with interesting ideas and thoughts. Turn to one radio station and they are preaching about foot washing,  turn to another channel and they are preaching against it.  Various religious groups have fascinating  practices that sometimes draw people in because they want to be able to perform the same kind of mystical activities or at least benefit from those who are engaging in such activity. Even in the church, some of the teachings can be very confusing. It can sometimes seem difficult to know the difference between truth and lies. However, ONLY GOD’S WORD CAN BE THE LIGHT OF TRUTH!!!!

                GOD BLESS YOU!!!!


  Rev. Chris Lowe, Sr., DD

  Email Dr. Lowe

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